The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) issued a public service announcement around the Island to encourage cyclists to ride SMART, and create awareness among the biking and motorist community of the Island as a destination for recreational cyclists of all abilities.
BPAC is a subcommittee of the joint transportation committee, falling under the larger umbrella of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. The MVC helps with the planning and development of BPAC projects, supported by a behind-the-scenes team of design professionals who helped come up with SMART (Stay alert, Maintain space, Act safely and predictably, Respect the rules of the road, Think ahead and talk). BPAC is made up of volunteers who work to provide representation for each town on the Island, Aquinnah being the only one currently without a member on the committee.
Rich DeWitt, BPAC chair, told The Times about the escalating bicycle- and pedestrian-related issues emerging and worsening on-Island as a result of road and bike path infrastructure and speed. DeWitt also spoke to the lack of well-connected bike paths that cover a total of 44 miles between six island towns, which is made worse by narrow road ways with little to no shoulder, especially up-Island.
In 2021, the Steamship Authority sold 28,769 bicycle ferry tickets on the Vineyard route from Woods Hole, according to SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll. Additionally, bike touring companies, such as Backroads and Vermont Bike Tours bring groups to the Island. In recent years, there is also the emerging issue of electric bikes, as they are now available to rent on the Island, and have become a more popular transportation method for commuters across Massachusetts. As more cyclists arrive on the Island, in time for busy summer crowds, DeWitt explains that encouragement of safe practices and recognition of Massachusetts laws that govern a shared road experience on-Island is important.
BPAC hopes Martha’s Vineyard can be recognized as bicycle-friendly for the cyclist and motorist community. As DeWitt said about BPAC, “We are a committee of biking enthusiasts, so we think of ourselves as advocates for the biking and pedestrian experience.” Thus, the BPAC public service announcement serves as a way to reach out to the cyclist community directly in an attempt to reduce bike and pedestrian accidents from the walker or cyclist, not solely through reconstruction projects.
The PSA was printed by Tisbury Printing, and has been distributed to bike shops around the Island. An online version was also posted to Facebook in the Cycling Club of Martha’s Vineyard group, with 600-plus members, and will appear as a full page in Vineyard Visitor, a publication aimed at tourists produced by The Times and distributed widely across the Island.